Man Threatens Town Buildings, President

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Local police officers and federal agents are investigating a series of threatening telephone calls that were made to Rim country dispatchers early Thursday morning. Those threats led to the temporary closure of the government offices later that day.

The series of threats began when an unidentified male made a collect call to dispatchers at the Gila County Sheriff's Department and Payson Police Department at 2:37 a.m. The last call came in at 3:08 a.m.

Although the sheriff's dispatcher did not accept the collect calls, the caller managed to blurt out a threat before the operator disconnected the call.

Throughout the morning, dispatchers received a total of six threatening calls.

The first call at 2:37 a.m. warned of a bomb at a local business. The next call was at 2:48 a.m., when the caller said the jail would blow up in 12 hours. At 2:55 a.m., he told the dispatcher, "you have five minutes to live."

In between calls to the sheriff's dispatcher, the caller was making the same type of threats to the Payson police dispatchers.

However, at 3:02 a.m., the threats became a federal offense when the caller said, "the President will die just like you."

That call was followed by two additional calls at 3:04 a.m., and 3:08 a.m., in which the caller stated, "call the FBI" and "tell the FBI to cram it."

Officials were able to trace the calls to a home in Palmdale, Calif., and Gila County officials notified the FBI's Phoenix office of the threat.

Det. George Ratliff said in a press release Friday that this portion of the investigation is now in the hands of the FBI's Los Angeles office.

The safety of the buildings threatened in Payson was addressed with the assistance of a bomb-sniffing dog from the Phoenix Police Department.

The dog and its handler were flown to Payson, by helicopter, at the request of the Sheriff's Department.

Nothing suspicious was found at any of the buildings in question.

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